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Life and language lessons: Foreign exchange program exposes students to a new world of friendship

For Scotia-Glenville sophomore James Brown, hosting a German exchange student for two weeks has been a lesson in life he could never have picked up from a textbook.

The friendship he has made is invaluable, he said, and the connection he now has with someone who lives a half a world away is one that he will have for life.

Brown and his family opened up their lives and home to one of the 19 German exchange students in the Scotia-Glenville School District this year. He will be visiting their country in February as part of the exchange.

Marcus Kiefer, my exchange student, and I got along well, and we really had a great time, said Brown. "Marcus and I like sports a lot, and we both learned about the differences in sports because of cultures. Marcus taught me a lot about soccer, and I had the privilege to teach him about baseball and American football."

Brown said the greatest challenge was fitting in everything he and his family wanted Kiefer to experience in just two weeks.

"Although we had a great time, I do have to admit it was tough to schedule activities because he was only here for two weeks," Brown said. "We were able to manage to see New York City, Boston, and we also went to the Great Escape. I think the best moment of the exchange was seeing the look on Marcus' face when he saw Times Square."

Corrina Coorssen, the German teacher at the high school who helped coordinate the exchange, said this is the 10th such exchange between Scotia-Glenville and the Robert Schuman Gymnasium in Saarlouis, Germany.

Coorssen said that in previous years, the number of applicants was too high and students were selected according to the timeliness and quality of their applications. In Germany, she said, the teacher selects participants largely according to teacher recommendations. The German students arrived Saturday, Sept.13, and left Saturday, Sept. 27, after two weeks of seeing sights all over New England.

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